When most of us think of college, we picture recent high school grads venturing off on their own. But the “traditional” 18- to 24-year-old student is only part of the story. About 30%, or 1 in 3, college students are age 25 or older. Many of them have children, full-time jobs and other major responsibilities.
PAYING FOR SCHOOL AS AN ADULT
Regardless of your age, you fill out the same free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) as any other student. Even if you don’t think you’ll need to take out loans, it’s still a good idea to complete the FAFSA. Federal student loans offer better interest rates and repayment plans than other borrowing options such as private loans, credit cards and alternative financial services. Just be sure you understand the terms and don’t take out more than you need.
If you are already in your career, you might get tuition reimbursement from your employer. Working while earning a degree may sound challenging, but if your employer pays part or all of your tuition you won’t have as much student loan debt to pay off. You can use this education as leverage to request a higher salary later on.
Research the grants, scholarships and repayment options available to military veterans, active-duty personnel and family members at StudentAid.ed.gov.
DO YOU REALLY NEED THE DEGREE?
While more education generally leads to higher financial well-being, going back to school is not a magic bullet. Where you go to school, how much debt you take on, and the future earnings potential in your career all matter when considering higher education.